14 Ways San Francisco Has Given New Life to Its Historic Assets

In the current feature story from its 'Urbanist' magazine, the Bay Area planning think tank SPUR looks at 14 efforts to preserve the soul of San Francisco through the adaptive reuse, incorporation and juxtaposition of the city's historic buildings.

"Great cities are built in layers: New buildings can help reinforce older urban forms and old buildings can be reimagined to serve new uses," write SPUR and San Francisco Architectural Heritage. "It is the juxtaposition of old and new that gives cities their interesting corners, their urban surprises, their texture."

The 14 creative, challenging, and sometimes controversial preservation efforts examined in the article are grouped into three categories: 

  • Adaptive Reuse — when old buildings are repurposed for a use that they were not originally designed to serve.
  • Incorporation — when elements of old buildings are incorporated into new buildings.
  • Juxtaposition — when something new responds to, but does not mimic the old.
Featured projects include the hugely successful 2003 rehabilitation of the Ferry Building, the "highly provocative" incorporation of the rotunda and glass dome of the City of Paris department store into Philip Johnson's Neiman Marcus building, and the addition of four "sleek glass" stories of apartments above the former Arc Light Company Station B building.
Full Story: Adapt, Transform, Reuse


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